Veronique de Turenne
What a dilemma Yan Lianke must pose to his government. He's one of China's most celebrated writers, and among its most censored. In a career that spans 30 years, he's endured the repeated whipsaw of populist praise followed by official penalty. The publication in 2004 of The Joy of Living earned him both his nation's prestigious Lao She literary prize, and his ouster from the Chinese army. Now his scathing novel, Dream of Ding Village, which was banned just weeks after its publication in 2005, has come roaring onto the American marketplace in a vibrant translation by Cindy Carter.
Dream of Ding Village begins as Ding Hui, the ambitious son of a local school teacher, persuades the people of tiny Ding village to follow the lead of the other towns in Henan Province and sell their blood for cash. Hui soon becomes a successful "bloodhead," with so many collection stations that when he runs short of supplies, he simply re-uses the needles and cotton swabs. The people of Ding village sell enough blood that they get wealthy. And then they get AIDS.
Grotesque as it sounds, the set-up is rooted in the Chinese blood-selling scandal of the mid-1990s. In a government-sanctioned scheme, hundreds of thousands of residents in rural Henan Province sold their blood for eventual resale to international pharmaceutical companies. Unsafe medical practices led to an AIDS epidemic, unofficially estimated at close to one million cases.
Lianke, a native of Henan Province, plays with farce and satire and allegory as he spins his dark tale. His description of what has been lost is as mesmerizing as his critique of those to blame is merciless.
--Veronique de Turenne
What People are saying about this
From the Publisher
“A powerful look at the AIDS scandal in Henan province during the 1990s when many people became infected with HIV after selling their blood at private collection centers, Yan’s evocative novel focuses on one family at the heart of the tragedy in the fictional Ding Village . . . Communist ideals battle against capitalistic impulses and human nature in this grand, layered novel, a must-read for anyone interested in present-day China.” Booklist
“Gripping, swift, heartfelt, occasionally exhilarating and often surprising . . . Like Albert Camus' The Plague, the novel works on more than one level, not only as a commentary on the growth of modern China but opening outward into an existential parable about what human beings think is important in this short, short life. All of us are living in Ding Village, infected with death and waiting out our days. In these lives, with a heightened awareness of death, every second counts, every bit of happiness matters. As they should in our own.” Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness
“Censored in China, the latest novel by Yan (Serve the People!) to be translated into English is a brutal morality tale of a country undergoing transition
Written after three years of clandestine research on a real-life blood-selling scandal that was widespread in China, this book shines another grim spotlight on China’s abuses. Like his literary contemporaries Mo Yan and Yu Hua, Yan’s unflinching irreverence makes this Schadenfreude tragedy essential reading.” Library Journal
“A sorrowful but captivating novel about the price of progress in modern China. The book, which was censored in that country, builds to an act of violence that resonates with the impact of Greek tragedy or Shakespearean drama.” Kirkus Reviews
Shortlisted for The Man Asian Literary Prize